Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Life is so fleeting

As a nurse I faced life & death all the time.  I know that I am a bit desensitized to those sort of issues in comparison with most people, simply because of my job experiences. 

But even though it's business as usual as a nurse, when it's someone I know & love it's a very different situation.

Last Friday I got a text message from my niece, asking me to pray for her dad, my brother in law.  She said she thought he was having a heart attack, but that it was serious.  Piecing the whole situation took some time, but my hubby & I & many others were on our knees praying for him.

My brother in law was only 52.  His wife & daughters were his world.  He was a hard worker & his ultimate goal was always to please them & others that he loved.  He was so very generous & loving.  He was always willing to help out anyone he could.  I have so many memories flooding into my mind of him over the past 10 years.

My husband has shared many things with me from the days before I was part of this family.  And my hubby's sister & my brother in law have always been held in high regard from my perspective.  They lost a son at the age of 18 months in the past.  That is such a hard, hard thing to do.  I honestly can't even imagine.  And statistics show that among couples who have lost a child, the divorce rate is sky high.  For them to have survived that & stayed together all these years is really, really admirable to me.

Earlier this month they celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.  Their daughters planned a surprise party for them.  It was so wonderful.  I was sooooo excited about the party & for them.  What a HUGE milestone to be able to celebrate.  Their daughters had a photo of the 2 of them & we were all signing it, sort of like at a wedding.  I don't remember exactly what I wrote, but I know I ended it with "here's to the next 25 years" & I truly meant it & expected to have another party at that time.

And then here I am on my knees praying my heart out for him, in tears.  I learn that he has an aortic aneurysm.  I learn that he is on life support.  I learn that he is being helicoptered to a different hospital for emergency surgery to repair his aorta.

I stayed at home with my toddler son.  The hospital wouldn't let me in with him & my hubby didn't want him at the hospital around the germs.  So only one of us could go (so the other could stay with Lil J) & since it was hubby's sister I let him go.  Even though it's hard for me to not be there, especially since I'm a nurse.  I like to be my friend & family's advocate during medical issues. 

And he makes it to the other hospital......but there the doctor decides he doesn't need the surgery.  I still don't understand why.  And my hubby tells me that just minutes after he arrives (my hubby arriving there, my brother in law had, at this point, been there for over an hour I believe & "should" have already been in surgery) his heart rhythm changes & they have to code him.  They code him for an hour before they give up & let him go.

We are all still in shock.  I went to see my sister in law & nieces the following day.  As we pieced together info it went something like this: He had worked a lot of hours, more than one long shift back to back, too much overtime actually, definitely beyond the legal limits.  His sister was coming to visit from out of state soon & he said he wanted extra money, so he could show his sister a really good time.  He had gone to a boot store (I still don't know if he went there from work or from home, based on the time of it I would assume he went straight from work) & someone working in the store says he was very confused, he kept saying "she's coming, she's coming" over & over.  He said he was thirsty & the guy gave him something to drink & asked him if he was ok.  He said he just needed to eat & asked if he could use the restroom.  He was in there for a very long time.  The guy went to check on him & he was still saying "she's coming, she's coming" over & over.  He called 911.  From there he went to hospital #1.  This was around 7:30 or 8:30 am I believe.  No family was notified he was there until around 12:30  or 1:00pm.  And at that point he was already on life support & unconscious.  We have no idea what transpired during that whole morning.  Someone did tell my other brother in law (hubby's brother) that they had coded him a couple of times there, & I'm assuming it was at one of those times that he ended up on the life support. 

I am told that his blood pressure was extremely low & he had stopped breathing.  So he was on medication to keep the blood pressure up & he was on a ventilator to keep him breathing.  They said that his aorta was very enlarged.  Someone said that they were told the CT scan showed a tear in the aorta & someone else said that they were told there was no way to confirm a tear on the CT scan. 

Based on his low blood pressure I would assume there was a tear.  And I am told that the left side of his face was getting more & more swollen as time went on, which would also indicate a tear, that he was bleeding internally. 

He was helicoptered to hospital #2 specifically for emergency heart surgery, to repair the aorta.  He was sent, he arrived, & then they decided he didn't need the surgery.  That is the one question I still have, the one issue I am having a hard time letting go of & making peace with.  There is no other option with an aortic aneurysm, aside from surgery.  I just don't get it. 

I know that only God can take us & that He can only take us when it's His will & His timing.  I know that His timing is not our timing.  I know that no human error can take someone before it is God's time.  I am clinging to this just as I did when my stepfather passed away.  But it's so hard when he is so young.  It just doesn't seem right.  Sometimes it is so hard to understand God, but I know that His ways & His plans are perfect & that He sees a much bigger picture than the rest of us do.  And I know that my brother in law is now in a better place.  His father died many years ago, his son died as a toddler, & his mother just passed away a couple of months ago.  He can be reunited with them in heaven.  And that is what I cling to as I grieve & as my heart aches for my sister in law & nieces.  As bad as this hurts for me I know it hurts for them a million times more.  And I love them so much that it kills me to see them go through this.

I really hate the whole grieving process.  I hate hurting & crying & how long it takes to go through.  I wrote this hoping it would be therapeutic for me & help me get through this.


Danielle-Marie said...

I'm so sorry for your family's loss. 52 is so young. And right before an anniversary. So devastating. I am praying all of your hearts heal soon, especially for your sister-in-law and nieces.

Psalm 23 has always given me strength in difficult times.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside still waters;
He restores my soul. He leads me in right paths For His Name's sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil;
For you are with me;
Your rod and Your staff - they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, You anoint my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life. And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord My whole life long.

Frau Guten Tag said...

Thank you so much, Danielle. Hubby & I were just talking about it last night, that we can't believe 3 months has already passed without him. It's still hard when we go to his house to visit my sister in law & nieces. It's hard to accept that he's not going to be there. And his oldest daughter is getting married in a couple of weeks, I think it's gonna be really hard getting through the wedding without him. I know she wanted her father to give her away.